Edit Blog Post
Published: March 4th 2018
Jersey is a beautiful place, but has a problem. It is a 4 wheeled problem. The population is a shade over 100,000, but it has an automobile population of a similar size. The number plates all start with a prefix of "J". I set about looking for the highest and lowest number denominations I could see during our visit. J51 ranks as the lowest on a Land Rover Defender and J139086 is affixed to a Fiat 500. An island, a mere 45 square miles in size, doesn’t really have room for them all. I studied the houses as we passed on the bus. The cars are crammed on to every conceivable piece of driveway and the local estate agents seem very keen to emphasise details such as “parking for 5 cars”. I noticed over the course of our visit, that many cars don’t actually move. They possibly remained parked up for fear of losing their all important street parking place. The advert on the side of our bus highlighted the as many cars as people theme, before pointing out that this one double decker took 75 of them off the road. It was ironic then, that I should find my second
football match of the afternoon behind a car dealership. A few minutes from the airport, neat rows of Bentleys, Aston Martins, Porsches etc line the forecourt. Even the more logical choices such as the Mini, seem only to be aspired to in Cooper S model. New and premium used vehicles, glistened in the afternoon sun. On the basis that there aren’t actually that many miles of road, I am sure the used variety are all low mileage. We took a slight detour through the ranks of vehicles. In the UK, a salesman would have been out to assist in a flash. I suspect that they took one look out their window on a freezing cold day and thought as one of my friends would describe us - “tyre kickers”. The vehicles on show seem totally unsuited to the terrain. Why would you want a 160 mph super car, when the maximum speed limit on the island is 40 mph? I stress that is the maximum. There are plenty of urban 30 mph zones and near schools, 20 mph zones. We would later see Ferraris, that have no doubt never been out of 3rd
gear. The answer to the cars is of
course that there is no answer. The good folk of Jersey have money and if they want to spend it on cars, spend they will.
The second football of the afternoon was going on largely un-noticed in JTC Park just behind the said car dealer. The home of Jersey Wanderers plays very much junior fiddle to the premier sport of the Wanderers empire – egg chasing, rugby union. The so called Jersey Reds – Les Rouges De Jersey - have had a meteoric rise with successive promotions and now play in the Green King IPA Championship – the second tier of English club rugby. In amongst their opponents, esteemed clubs such as Yorkshire Carnegie, London Scottish, Cornish Pirates and Bristol now visit the island. As well as cars, it seems somebody in Jersey is spending money on rugby union. The only problem I guess is where to park the Aston Martin on matchday or do you bring the Range Rover out for trips to the rugby? The ground has been developed with seating, cover and floodlights and now runs under the exotic title of Stade Santander International. If you want to experience this for yourself, the non-member
entry is £19 – tickets available from Eventbrite – and I note that a 1,000 tickets of the 4,000 capacity are reserved for visiting supporters. The ultimate away trip ouside of the European games and one that sorts out the real fans from corporates. Flybe must love it. There had been a reserve game against a Coventry Development team earlier in the day. It kicked off at 12.30 pm, so all could prepare for the Calcutta against Scotland later in the afternoon. As well as competing in the Championship against mainland opposition, the other big deal for the Jersey Reds is the annual Siam Cup against the Guernsey Raiders. It has been competed for since 1920, making it the second oldest rugby honour after the above Calcutta Cup. In 2016, the rules of Siam Cup changed to mean that Jersey could only field players resident on the island for 3+ years – otherwise it would be a massacre everytime. We cut through the Stade to seek out JTC Park.
The St Peters experience was Jersey Football Combination Division 1, but this was Premiership stuff at JTC Park. The game had been in some doubt, not because of
weather, but because the pitch had been rearranged after vandals had driven a car round on the pitch scouring out turf with the tyre tracks. It was probably quite a shock, because crime doesn’t seem to be the first thing on everybodys mind here. The JTC Park might have been Premiership, but was quite basic with no spectator viewing facilities, seats or floodlights on the pitch being used. A separate pitch to one side with floodlights, looked like it was a training pitch for the affluent rugby team. The Other Half sought refuge from the biting wind in the clubhouse and settled down for an obscured view with her hot chocolate and chocolate bar. The attendance was counted as 22 plus 2 Non League Dogs, who were appropriately supporting the opposition from Rozel Rovers. The dog owner (and his dogs) was taking a break from his normal beach walk and checking on his son – playing left wing for Rozel. The attire of the 2 teams suggested it could be Sunderland v Reading, although even with the woeful form of the team in red and white stripes the standard fell a bit short. In fact, you wouldn't really have been
Footprints in the sand
able to tell the difference between what was on offer from St Peters Reserves and mid-table Premiership. Rozel dominated the 2nd
half, but were 3-0 down at that stage and the only goal I saw was more of a consolation than a serious attempt to pull back the deficit. We wandered back through the rugby ground towards the bus stop. The bar was quite full, as they awaited the start of hostilities at Murrayfield.
We walked back towards the airport in search of the regular Service 15 for St Aubin. St Aubin lies at the other end of the bay from St Helier. The Parish Hall opposite the bus stop was hosting a vintage fair. The majority of stalls were packing up, but we had a quick walk round. The Hall is the former Railway Station, that once linked this end of the bay to "town". A whole 3 3/4 miles distance. An extension was built to Corbiere, but operations ceased in 1936. There was a brief re-opening in the war, after the Germans found it handy for moving large amounts of granite to built their coastal defences. The tide was well out and the
boats in the small harbour just behind were beached on the mud. The harbour is protected by St Aubins Fort, which is a small version of Elizabeth Castle. It was all quiet up the tiny High Street and most shops had either closed for the day or had been closed for the winter sometime before. We sought refuge in the Westward Pub, another one of the Liberation Pub Group empire. It is one part of the Old Court House Hotel - featured in many a Bergerac episode as Lil's Bar. The front seating area had a pleasant view out to sea. The back two rooms were full of rugby fans in for the Scotland v England game. We only stayed on a pint, after the front bar became similarly invaded by a 30th birthday party group. The large inflatable 3 0 balloons gave the game away! The evening was spent back in the White Horse in St Helier.
The blue skies reigned again on Sunday morning. I fortified myself with another of the fine cooked breakfasts on offer at the hotel. There was another German battery – Battery Lothringen – on the agenda this morning. We utilised
our 3 day bus pass and caught the Service 12A to Portolet Bay. The bus skirts St Aubin and on past the island prison, before depositing you in the car park opposite the Old Portolet Hotel. We walked out across the gorse heath land to the point. I had got away with 2 visits yesterday to WW2 sites and kept the best for last. As well as another observation tower perched on the cliff, a series of gun emplacements are scattered with commanding views of the bay beneath. A “Martello” tower stands on the point beneath. The battery holds the distinction of being the only Kriegsmarine – German Navy – battery on the island. The 3rd Battery of Naval Artillery Battalion 604 were stationed here from 1941. As with Battery Moltke in my last blog, the big guns used here were pretty much antiques. In this case, 1917 Krupps manufactured pieces. The most distinctive feature for the visitor is the Type M.132 Command Bunker with the armoured automatic range finder turrets.
We walked down to a deserted Portolet Bay. We were the only ones on the golden beach. I took some snaps of the footprints in the
virgin sand as the Other Half strolled. I guess the summer would see a different picture. A small tower lies marooned in the bay. The island is actually called Ile au Guerdain. It is known as Janvrin’s tomb and is the site of another of the “Martello” towers. Phillipe Janvrin was a local sea captain, who was quarantined on the island after a voyage to France. He died on his 2nd
day in quarantine. It is possible to walk out at low tide to the island, but a sign warns if you get stuck there – “stay put and wait until the tide recedes”. The big houses stare down over the perfect little bay, so there will be someone to keep an eye out for you. The Portolet beachside cafe was closed, so we had no further reason to linger and caught the bus for the first leg of our next journey to Gorey.
Service 1 to Gorey was a regular bus, even on a Sunday. We got lucky with our transfer at the Bus Station – off one and on the 1 within 30 seconds. We spoke with our fellow diners from the next table at
the White Horse the previous evening. The bus headed through St Clement and followed the coast to the eastern end of the island. Gorey is 2 distinct places – the village and the harbour. I suspect that most visit the harbour with the pier and the very distinctive castle on Mont Orgueil. The Cotentin Peninsula is the closest point to the French mainland, so the castle has always been a strong point for the defence of the island. Mont Orgueil or “Pride” was constructed after the rman lands were forfeited by the English crown in the early 1200s. It was superseded by Elizabeth Castle as the main defence for St Helier and saved from demolition in 1600 by the then Governor, Walter Raleigh. The Royalists used it as a base to regain Jersey from the Parliamentarians in 1643. Queen Vic and Albert paid a visit in 1846, George V in 1921 and the current Queen Elizabeth has also popped in. Today, the Castle is a visitor attraction and the subject of many iconic postcard shots of Jersey. We opted not to spend the £12 to enter and just wandered on to the green for a view of France. The harbourside
under the castle is lined with shops, restaurants and houses. A number clearly make enough money in the summer with signs announcing that they would be open again at the end of March. We dined on toasted teacake in a small cafe, where the main skill of the server seemed to be dropping cutlery and saw our “friends” from the White Horse and the bus yet again. A small world – Jersey!
A number of parking spaces across by the harbour were coned off with No Waiting signs. Whilst were eating the toasted teacakes, the parking spaces were occupied by a group of vintage cars.The Bergerac Triumph roadster was not among them, but iconic models featured a Bentley and a Vauxhall! A very modern Audi R8 followed them down. He was unable to find a parking space, so satisfied himself revving up his £135,000 motor round a car park. The 5.2 litre, 640 bhp, V10 engine was not needed. A car is capable of hitting 60 mph in a shade over 3 seconds. What was the maximum Jersey speed limit again? 40 mph. £135,000 to speed in a car park. Bargain! I spied an opportunity
with the cars and the castle background. The pier was lined with some of the larger boats, which had been lifted out of the water for the winter. We walked out to the ferry place at the very end. The sea crashed against the wall just a few feet away and occasionally, spray would fly over on to the pier itself. I experimented with a few castle photographs from the sea wall – all the time keeping a very careful eye on the water beyond. My ideal shot of 3 Liberation Brewery bottles with the castle background seen in an advert proved impossible, largely due to not having the said 3 ale bottles to hand. We set off to walk part of the way back, firstly on the beach and then on the sea wall as far as the Royal Jersey Golf Club. A metal sculpture plaque celebrates the former Gorey oyster heritage. The course opened on Grouville Common in 1878 and received a royal warrant from Queen Vic the following year. An old fort sits in the middle of the early holes, the ever present Mont Orgueil is within sight but not range and if a reminder was needed
Old Court House, St Aubin
.... home of the Westward Pub featured on Bergerac as Lil's Bar
that there is a strategic landing beach on the edge of the links, a couple of German bunkers still stand there keeping a lookout to sea. Play was suspended during the war years, as the course was turned into a minefield. I have read the history of the Jersey Royal, so now know that Harry Vardon – winner of a record 6 Open Championships - was a member. Ted Ray, another Jersey Royal man, was the first ever Ryder Cup captain in 1927. We walked out through the entrance to the Jersey Royal and caught a bus back to St Helier. Appendix 1 Jersey Football Combination Premiership Jersey Wanderers FC 3 Rozel Rovers FC 1 Date
: Saturday 24th February 2018 @ 1430 Hours Venue
: JTC Park, La Rue des Landes, St. Peter's, Jersey, Channel Islands Attendance
Tot: 3.138s; Tpl: 0.024s; cc: 41; qc: 199; dbt: 0.0809s; 3; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 2.1mb